“I work to effect system change because I want to ensure our kids have access to adequate and appropriate supports, and that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski, MA
Policy Advocate

Jaimelee Behrendt-Mihalski is the Policy Advocate at Council for Children’s Rights. A graduate of DePaul University with a B.A. in community psychology, she moved to Charlotte in 2013 where she completed a M.A. in community psychology and certificate in nonprofit management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is expected to complete her Ph.D. in health psychology/community psychology in December 2020.

She is drawn to this work because she sees herself and her childhood friends represented in the children served by the Council. A child of an incarcerated parent who attended an underfunded public school, she grew up alongside children who were in foster care, needed special education and mental health services, caught in the middle of custody battles, or were in youth detention facilities. Because of her background and because she was “fortunate enough to have supports and — as a white woman — a lot of unseen privilege” she feels it is her imperative to use her talents and knowledge to shine a light on injustice in systems that impact children.

Jaimelee loves hiking, travel, and cooking and lives in Charlotte with husband Alex and their dog Behr. She currently is a big fan of puzzles (who knew?!) and living room yoga.

Children and families do not exist in a vacuum but, rather, are embedded in our communities and in our systems. Specifically, systems such as education, healthcare, and justice, intersect with social determinants of health, to create a set of conditions within which children and families live, work, play, learn, and interact. Those conditions affect their quality of life and ability to thrive.

Every day, Mecklenburg County’s child-serving professionals devote their lives to improving outcomes for our children and families. While their approaches to achieving that goal differ, the inherent tension between siloing and mission creep can make moving the need seem insurmountable.

The goal of this report is to provide a common language which fosters profound change in our community. The State of Our Children is not a new playbook or set of recommendations to address the complex challenges facing our rapidly growing community. Rather, it is a rallying point for the initiatives we’ve galvanized to support and a resource for the countless stakeholders in need of readily accessible, community-level indicators. And while it constitutes a toolset crafted by, and for, the child-serving sector, its reach should not end there.

With folks spending more time at home and with family, we hope this report provides an opportunity for thoughtful discussion and action – a tool for grounding us in the strengths and opportunities that existed in our community before stay-at-home orders and will remain once they’ve ended.

NEW THIS YEAR! ON-LINE FORUM

We also invite you to engage with us and the community on our forum. Learn more about opportunities to get involved and community data gaps, and discuss parts of the report that surprise or move you to action. To get involved, head to the forum with your thoughts, ideas, and questions. We look forward to hearing your feedback and appreciate your support!

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